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Tyler Davis

Mrs. Jackie Burr, Instructor

English 2010, Section 7

28 March 2017

Video Games and Behavior

What do the words video game cause people to think about? One may think of

themselves and a younger sibling running around collecting coins and saving a princess, while

another may envision a future murderer gunning down hundreds of digital people. These two

drastically different views of video games wrap the topic in a great deal of controversy: Half of

the population sees video games as nothing more than violent murder simulators and actively

attempt to prove them to be the cause of shootings and other terrible crimes. This misconception

has led to the belief that video games are directly related to the creation of future armed gunmen

and thieves. This however is not the entire story. Video games, like any other form of media, can

influence people in many ways both good and bad.

The most common time when video games are put on the chopping block for their

negative effects is after a teenager engages in a mass shooting. Often times the story goes along

the lines of someone went to a school and shot a group of students, injuring many of them and

killing a few. Usually, the shooter is a teenage boy, the perfect stereotype for a gamer. Then a

few days later the news overhears that the police have found violent video games such as Grand

Theft Auto and Call of Duty in the shooters possession. The press then makes a headline out of

the finding saying, Recent shooting caused by violent video game!


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One situation in which video games were blamed for a shooting is brought to light by

Scientific American in their web report Do Video Games Inspire Violent Behavior. Twenty

year-old Adam Lanza shot his way through an elementary school and investigations were still in

full swing eight months later when a police officer went to take a look at an interesting

development. Lanza had visited a specific mall nine times in the month of April, arriving around

midnight and staying for several hours each visit. The police officer questioned the employees at

a theater in the mall to find that Lanza was coming in to play an arcade game in the theaters

lobby. The employees told the officer that the Machine would often need to be unplugged in

order to convince Lanza to leave. Much to the surprise of the policeman, this game was not a

violent shooter like the games found in Lanzas home, but rather the arcade classic Dance Dance

Revolution. (Do Video Games) This example shows that the correlation between violence and

video games is not as strong as originally anticipated. A correlation still seems to exist however,

decades of research have turned up no reliable causal link between playing violent video games

and perpetrating actual violence and there is insufficient evidence to link violent video play to

criminal violence. (Do Video Games) (The Positive) In the end, no one is sure whether

violent games create violent people, or if violent people like violent games. This is supported by

the Washington Post when they state that their study did not prove that particular games caused

specific behaviors; it is possible, instead, that teens with certain behavior traits might be attracted

to certain types of games (Effects).

That is not to say that games are not without their flaws. Violent video games have been

shown to have a significant indirect effect on prosocial behaviors. Specifically, empathy and

behavioral self-control. (You, Kim, No) Prosocial behaviors are behaviors related to building
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social structures and making friends. The aforementioned study noticed a significant decrease in

these prosocial behaviors. There is also evidence that Games can confuse reality and fantasy

and that the more time a kid spends playing video games, the poorer is his performance in

school. (The Positive) These effects that can be caused by excessive gaming, though less well

known, can be just as unhealthy as the more common notion of violence. A lack in prosocial skill

can severely hinder a persons potential to form meaningful bonds with others or interacting on a

professional level. A high chance of decreased job opportunities manifests itself when this lack

in communication skills is combined with a diminished scholastic performance. Lower grades

lead to greater difficulty getting into college and fewer career choices for later in life. However,

despite these negative consequences video games can also bolster several potential benefits.

Skills such as problem solving, logic, strategy, and quick thinking are all a part of a list of

potential benefits from playing games and are only the tip of the iceberg. Players also may learn

perseverance, inductive reasoning, management, improve concentration, improve memory, and

improve reading and math skills. All of these skills have the potential to improve a persons

capacity for learning, while perseverance and management skills also provide the foundation to

take on leadership positions. Problem solving and logic skills help to teach players how to

quickly and effectively resolve setbacks or overcome obstacles that may arise in a work

environment which may build upon already impressive leadership skills. Players also learn skill

such as teamwork and communication which make them a much better member of society. All of

these skills help to benefit both the player and those around them in positive, constructive ways.

The following infographic visually presents a comparison of the positive effects of gaming

versus the negative effects:


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One of the most interesting benefits to be found in games is a boost in social skills. While

the study above conducted by You, Kim, and No indicates a decrease in social capabilities due to

playing video games, One must note that this study is on violent games. Though most games use

some form of violence as a source of gameplay, not all games are traumatically violent. Some

video games actually have the reverse effect upon their players than those that feature excessive

violence. In other words, video games are not solely about gunning down enemy soldiers. Some

games are about peaceful interaction and teamwork. The Washington Post reads:
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Teens who played mostly solitary games (in which they were the only player)

tended to be more engaged academically and have better peer relationships than

others in the study. Teens who gravitated toward multiplayer and competitive

games tended to have fewer internalized problems (which generally is used to

describe such issues as anxiety, loneliness and withdrawal). (Effect)

Social skills were also found to be promoted by video games in a study performed in Korea in

2015. Several school children were observed over a period of time in order to track their

behavior. The evidence shows that games encourage group interaction and leads to new forms

of social interaction by giving opportunity to create meaningful relationships with other players.

(Uz and Cagiltay 9) Video games are shown to be a great way to interact with ones family and

friends, acting as a bonding exercise. The study also shows that gamers that commonly have

difficulty creating social bonds in the real world are often the ones who try their best to do so in

the virtual world. This allows the world of online games to become a sort of training ground for

these individuals, allowing them to learn to interact outside of a virtual reality. (Uz and Cagiltay

8-10)

We must understand that videogames are not inherently bad or evil. Games are like any

form of media in the world today, being capable of both good and bad. There is plenty of

evidence to link several benefits to games, but it is important to remember to not overinvest time

in them. Electronic gaming, like most hobbies pursued during childhood, may be one of many

activities that help young people develop and can be part of a healthy childhood if pursued in

moderation. (Effect)
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Works Cited

Searing, Linda. The Effect of Video Games on Kids' Behavior and Achievement. The

Washington Post, WP Company, 6 Apr. 2015, Web. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Games. Raise Smart Kid, 12 Mar. 2017, Web.

Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

Toppo, Greg. Do Video Games Inspire Violent Behavior? Scientific American, 29 May 2015,

Web. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

Uz, Cigdem and Kursat Cagiltay. "Social Interactions and Games." Digital Education Review,

no. 27, 01 June 2015, pp. 1-12. Web.

You, Sukkyung, et al. "Impact of Violent Video Games on the Social Behaviors of Adolescents:

The Mediating Role of Emotional Competence." School Psychology International, vol. 36, no. 1,

01 Feb. 2015, pp. 94-111. Web.